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Carmine Gallo’s Rule of Three: Incorporating the Most Persuasive Number in Communications

When we take a look at how information is presented to us, we can see that the number three is everywhere. The “Rule of Three” is an age-old public speaking technique commonly used by politicians to give their arguments and oration more gravity, but it’s also a great lesson in presenting information in a professional setting.

2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain made use of the "Rule of Three" in his hyper-simplified 9-9-9 plan.
2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain made use of the “Rule of Three” in his hyper-simplified 9-9-9 plan.

Communications expert, speech coach, and regular Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo asserts that three is “the most persuasive number in communications.” In his post, he cites several historic examples, such as the famous credo of our founding fathers, “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Simplicity is key if we want our audience to retain the information we present; our audience will likely only remember a handful of points we make in our presentation (somewhere between 3 and 9 things).

If you want your message to be both impactful and memorable, keep all details to their most simplified form. For this, “The Rule of 3” is an effective guideline for an easy-to-comprehend presentation.

Though useful, bullet points should be condensed as much as possible, and aren't exactly a beacon of creativity.
Though useful, bullet points should be condensed as much as possible, and aren’t exactly a beacon of creativity.

When presenting, a common technique is to list out our thoughts or arguments as bullet points. There’s nothing inherently wrong with presenting information in this manner–although it’s by no means innovative It’s easy to get carried away when doing so because when your bullet point list grows too long, it will cause your audience to tune out.

“The Rule of Three” is more than just a way to impact your audience; it’s a cautionary reminder to not overload your audience. If you have a slide with a long list of bullet points, it is most likely time to condense this information into separate slides. Our brains have a tendency to automatically tune out when facing a daunting amount of information.


Below is an intriguing example of “The Rule of Three” used in a presentation. Apple visionary and business world demigod Steve Jobs cleverly introduced the iPhone as three separate devices before revealing all to be one device, all while using well-orchestrated repetition to hammer his point home.

In this manner, Jobs shows how “The Rule of Three” is more than just a reminder to not overload your audience with information; it’s a way to produce an aesthetic harmony within a presentation.

“The Rule of Three” is also a concept that it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. So even though you’ve done your research and you’ve become an expert on the topic you’re presenting, you’ve still only fought half the battle.

Incorporating Humor into a Presentation

Humor is a surprisingly effective tool in public speaking. No matter what level of professionalism you find yourself presenting at, a bit of comedic relief is almost always refreshing.

Sometimes the gravest, driest, or most technical speeches can often be the most in need of humor. Dense, heavy speeches can be very demanding, even exhausting for an audience, and eventually listeners may get weary and lose focus. Injecting a little humor into your PowerPoint presentation is helpful in relieving some built up tension.

Humor might not be for you

A joke or two–maybe a witty comment here or there–can really brighten up a speech, engage your audience, and help make a lasting impression, but when done poorly, it can not only create a cringe-worthy situation, it can take all credibility from your speech.

If you’re very uncomfortable using humor in casual conversation or in your personal life, it may not be worth the risk in an important presentation, because a flubbed joke can have a devastating impact on a speech.

Practice!

You might be one of those effortlessly hilarious people that’s constantly making your friends laugh, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect to make an audience laugh so easily, or so spontaneously.

Man in the mirror
While you may feel a bit foolish telling jokes to yourself in the mirror, the practice will pay off when it counts.

Good joke telling is about timing and delivery, and that requires rehearsal. Don’t risk fumbling over your words or forgetting a key part of the joke. As lame as it sounds, practice your jokes privately or work them into conversations to test the waters of how people react.

Don’t shy away from self-effacing humor

This may sound counter intuitive, but self-effacing, or self deprecating humor can show your audience you possess confidence in who you are, because you’re comfortable enough to laugh at yourself. An embarrassing story from the past can help establish trust between you and your audience by showing a human side to yourself.

And remember, never make jokes at others’ expense. While you may get a few laughs out of it, nobody’s going to respect you any more for it.

Most Importantly…

Have a point! So many people make the innocent mistake of injecting humor in their presentations just for humor’s sake. It’s important to remember that we aren’t stand-up comedians, we’re giving a presentation, which means we’re there to convey information in a direct, yet interesting way. If humor helps us further this goal and present in a more effective manner, then all the better. However, if you’re just telling jokes purely to make the audience laugh, sure, they might have more fun, but they’ll retain less of the information you’re their to present.

So tread lightly, consider your audience carefully, and be extremely conscious of being tasteful and good-spirited, but most importantly, have fun! It’ll be much easier for your audience to enjoy your presentation if you do as well.

A Guide to Tackling Stage Fright

In a corporate or professional presentation, there’s rarely a shortage of pressure to impress. We usually only have one shot with a client or investor, so it’s important to always make it count. Often heightened by this pressure not to choke, many experience serious stage fright when a presentation looms in the near future.

Shockingly, some people prefer this to public speaking.
Shockingly, some people prefer this to public speaking.

Most of us experience at least some sort of nervousness when speaking in public. While this can range from just mild discomfort to full-on panic, it’s an extremely common phenomenon. In fact, a recent study gave people the option between a mild electroshock and giving a short speech, and most people chose electrocution!

The adrenaline we experience prior to a presentation can be a distraction or a tool to help you focus; it’s all a matter of embracing it correctly. Here are a few tips to help channel your heightened anticipation in a positive way.

Maintain a Positive Outlook

It’s often instinctual to begin running through every possible awful thing that could go wrong during a speech when we become anxious about it. Getting stuck in a negative cycle of thought doesn’t do anyone any good, and if anything, over thinking these problems increases their chance of actually occurring.

Instead of sitting and brooding over what might go wrong, channel your energy toward something positive. When you feel yourself becoming anxious about a future presentation, address it in a constructive way. Run through your speech aloud or in your head, go through and edit your PowerPoint, or rethink your talking points. This will not only improve your speech, but this will also help provide you with a healthy distraction.

 

A Healthy Body and Mind are Key

Previously, we wrote about controlling one’s physiology for a presentation, which cannot be overstressed, especially when stage fright is a factor. Leading up to the presentation, avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol as much as possible.

Going for a run or taking a yoga class can help your body process stress much more effectively, which can help in alleviating the physical symptoms of stage fright.

Meditation can be a practical tool in relaxing and managing stress.
Meditation can be a practical tool in relaxing and managing stress.

Care for your mental health should be just as important. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to calm yourself down leading up a speech. Other alternatives are taking long walks or practicing meditation. Don’t underestimate these types of exercises when you encounter stressful situations.

Keep Your Focus on the Audience

Overcoming stage fright won’t be fixed overnight. Even if you do your best to follow the tips listed above, you may still be overwrought with nerves when it comes to show time. Here, it’s important to reinforce why you’re giving the speech: to present something of value to the audience. Try to put your focus on the message you’ll convey rather than being terrified about having to convey a message.

Most importantly, don’t shy away from fear of presenting. The more you practice and embrace speaking opportunities, the better and more comfortable you’ll be doing so.

It Doesn’t Matter, Any Tequila!

Sure it’s funny, but think if it wasn’t about tequila, and instead it was about your business. You obviously wouldn’t be laughing.

If you’re looking for a house to live in, would you choose one by saying this to your realtor, “It doesn’t matter, any house?”

How about when finding a spouse? Or what about when your choosing a major in college?

Any semi-rational person would not. Houses, spouses, and careers are all monumental aspects to someone’s life and because of that, people tend to weigh out the pros and cons thoroughly when it comes to any decision.

Much like houses, spouses and careers are huge aspects to someone’s life, the way the world identifies with your company is one of the most crucial aspects to its success. When you are presenting yourself, or more importantly your company, to an audience of buyers, sellers, investors, or whoever, it is imperative to come off as a professional, valuable, and effective entity.

Impressions you give

Most people will judge whether or not they like you, dislike you, find you interesting or boring in a matter of minutes, sometimes even seconds. These minutes are what can lead to earning or losing new clients or sales. Knowing that your presentations have this much significance, a rational person wouldn’t say “It doesn’t matter, any presentation.” In fact, they would focus on making that presentation the best it could possibly be.

This is where you bring in professional presentations designers, like SlideGenius. SlideGenius is headquartered in San Diego, California with over 500 Worldwide Clients. The “Geniuses” (presentation experts) see on average over 200 presentations per month and have years of professional experience creating captivating PowerPoint presentations for a wide variety of clients.

Bringing in Professionals

The Geniuses can update an existing presentation or build one from scratch, leveraging your brand. SlideGenius works with you to ensure that the message you want to get across to your audience is communicated as effectively as possible, while leaving your audience impressed with a polished, professional presentation.

 If you do not have a professionally designed PowerPoint Presentation you are undeniably leaving business on the table. Many sales people have reported an increase of up to 25-50% in closed sales simply by providing a highly visual presentation.

When it comes to your business, don’t take just anything. Take the best, and be the best.

Work Cited:
Http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7tlp/hornitos-plata-tequila-any

What NSA Chief Keith Alexander Can Teach Us About Presenting to a Tough Crowd

Yesterday, The National Security Agency Chief Keith Alexander presented to a room full of hackers and cyber security experts at the Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas. The NSA has monopolized the headlines over the extent of their spying activities on U.S. citizens, such as the controversial “PRISM” program, became known to the public. Further controversy arose when it was reported that the NSA had lied to Congress about the existence of such programs. During yesterday’s speech, a couple audience members made their distaste for the NSA’s activities known in a very vocal manner.

Hecklers, or even just an unruly, disrespectful crowd, has the potential to derail any presentation. You can’t control when you’ll experience an undesirable crowd, but you can control how you react to it. Say what you will about the NSA’s activities, but there is a lesson to be learned from how gracefully Alexander handled himself in the face of aggressive hecklers.

Don’t Lose Your Cool

President Barack Obama
Some audiences may agitate you to the point where you want to yell like President Barack Obama, but keeping one’s cool is an important lesson in presenting.

It’s always an awkward moment when a presenter gets visibly angry. It’s one of those terrible “can’t-look-away” moments you don’t want to be the focus of. Nobody ever looks good squabbling with audience members, so it’s always important that, no matter how angry, aggressive, or insulting a crowd may get, you never stoop down to their level.

Another often infuriating aspect of presenting is if your audience seems to be paying no attention to you at all. Sure, you’ll always have a few people in the audience texting–maybe even snoozing a bit–but it’s still irksome when some have the nerve to carry on a casual conversation while you’re giving a speech right in front of them.

Although it’s not quite as uncomfortable as openly arguing with an audience member, pausing your speech to “shh” someone can be a little awkward too. Use your best judgement here. If the unruly, oblivious audience member is beginning to distract others, it’s okay to politely and respectfully ask if they could keep their voice down.

Similarly, if a heckler seems hell-bent on distracting you and demands a response, and there isn’t any event security to assist you here, it’s best to ask if they wait until the end of the presentation to approach you with comments or questions.

The most important thing, in either case, is to keep a cool head. More often than not, hecklers are looking for a reaction.

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”

That saying isn’t totally applicable, but if you watch this short clip of Alexander’s speech, when the hecklers begin to yell out while he is talking, rather than ignore or try to speak over them, Alexander ad lib’s them into his speech. While not all of us may be comfortable enough doing this so naturally, it’s an effective way to keep the attention in the room focused on your topic, not what the hecklers are shouting about.

A bad crowd, or a few bad eggs in it, is never desirable, and hopefully it isn’t a common occurrence. Most rude audience members in the business world are often simply bored or oblivious, and the best solution is simply to be captivating enough to keep the crowd focused on the topic of your choosing.

 

Reference:

Menn, Joseph. “NSA Chief Defends Surveillance Programs at Hacking Conference.Reuters. July 31, 2013.

How to Incorporate the Audience into Your Presentation

Whether it’s a dry, sedating lecture from our college days, a training seminar that seems to make time move backwards, or a local politician detailing every bit of a new mundane city ordinance, we’re all painfully familiar with just how stunningly boring some presentations can be. The fatal flaw many of these unexciting presentations make is that they forget to work their audience into the equation when planning and giving their presentation.

Consider your audience when planning your presentation, otherwise this may be the result.
Consider your audience when planning your presentation, otherwise this may be the result.

Breaking “the wall” between you and your audience is a great way to keep them engaged, entertained, and even on their toes throughout your presentation, ensuring that they absorb every bit of what you’re saying. Audience incorporation, when done right, can generate a lot of constructive energy in your presentation, and it can even help you relax and feel more at ease with the group you’re presenting to. Here’s a few tips to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

Don’t Start Off with Audience Participation

The beginning of a presentation, especially in front of a cold audience, is often the most difficult part. Here it is alluring to transfer some of the attention away from yourself to your audience by asking them to participate, but avoid this temptation. At the beginning of your presentation, the audience is also the most unfamiliar with you, so you need to “warm them up” first. Allow them to grow comfortable in their chairs and develop some sense of trust–or at least familiarity–with you. However, don’t let them grow too comfortable. Many communications experts will argue that audience members switch to “TV mode” after about five minutes, where they will switch to a passive mindset and just become an observer.

Craft Constructive Questions

While audience participation can add a lot to a presentation, when done wrong, it can be awkward and alienating for the audience. For instance, singling out an audience member at random with a surprise question will usually catch them off guard, causing them to illicit a short, unhelpful response and disrupt the flow of your presentation.

There are a few ways this can be avoided, and to incorporate your audience in a natural, low-pressure way. First, if you’re going to be asking audience members questions directly, plan carefully and tread lightly. I’ve found that the best way is to give your audience ample time to formulate a response and let them be the ones to volunteer if they want to answer.

In an attempt to avoid putting people on the spot, some presenters will ask the audience a broad question and hope someone volunteers a response, but most people are usually reticent to offer up a response in a cold audience.

A middle ground is to divide the audience up into groups or pairs, have them discuss your  question or topic, and then ask for volunteers to offer their response. This will allow them to formulate a response and grow more comfortable with the audience before being asked to speak.

Formulating Questions

When asking the audience questions, it’s important for the questions benefit your presentation without derailing it. Know the exact response you want, and direct your presentation accordingly. Don’t make it too complex where your audience is stumped, but don’t make it so dumbed down to be mundane.

It’s often difficult to predict how an audience will react until you try the questions out, so test the questions out on friends and colleagues to gauge their effectiveness.

Lastly, be creative. There’s no scientific formula for engaging your audience. Don’t force anything, pay close attention to the energy of the audience, and think outside the box; you’ll do just fine.

Study Shows Simplicity is Key When Creating a PowerPoint Presentation

At what point is your PowerPoint taking away from what you have to say, ultimately doing more harm than good to your presentation? German psychologist Chrstof Wecker did a study on oral information retention when using a PowerPoint presentation, and his results were very interesting.

The study’s abstract states:

“The objective of this study was to test whether information presented on slides during presentations is retained at the expense of information presented only orally, and to investigate part of the conditions under which this effect occurs, and how it can be avoided.”

The study found that “regular” slides negatively affected how much of what the presenter said was retained by the test audience. This means the presenter would be better off using no PowerPoint at all if he or she wanted the audience to retain more of what was said during the presentation.

By SlideGenius
An example of a simple, effective PowerPoint slide by SlideGenius.

However, the study found that correctly done, concise slides were by far the best for maximum retention of information, both orally and visually. This is because the two complimented each other without overloading the audience’s ability to take in new information.

We’ve all heard this lesson many times before, but here is scientific evidence that you don’t want to overload your audience with cluttered slides, because the mind naturally prioritizes visual information over auditory information.

Another important lesson to take from this is to keep in mind that your PowerPoint presentation is there for your audience; it’s not your teleprompter. Many people will cram their slides with as much information as possible, and then use them as their talking points. This is detrimental to a presentation for a couple reasons.

 

First, while there isn’t likely to be much information lost since you’ll essentially be repeating everything on your PowerPoint slides, you’ll create a totally impersonal presentation. You’ll take away the need for a human being presenting the information, which obviously has the capacity to be more engaging than words on a page. You’ll also fail to make eye contact while you’re speaking if you’re constantly reading off your PowerPoint, which is sacrificing a great tool for drawing people in while you’re speaking.

boring-powerpoint-presentation-1024x748

While simplicity and conciseness are hugely important when creating a visual aid to accompany you in a presentation, there are several other factors that come into play to guarantee that your presentation packs a punch. Professional PowerPoint designers and presentation specialists are vital in taking all these factors into account when creating your presentation in order to ensure your presentation is both easily retained and enthralling.

3 Things You Must do at the Start of Your Presentation

Think of how the most recent Bond movies start.

They begin off with 8 minutes of Daniel Craig punching, shooting, and shoving his way through building walls, while back flipping onto moving boats, while explosions are going off everywhere, after which he gets a  wink and kiss from some girl who is probably in some Victoria’s Secret cover … and all of this happens before the credits even roll.

Set your corporate presentation alongside to that intro sequence. That’s your competition.  The world has changed into a viral and fast-paced society that needs instant gratification in every aspect of their lives. Audiences no longer hold the patience to listen to you going on and on about boring background or technical information. Your audience will judge you and decide whether you are even worth listening too within those first 8 minutes, probably even before that.

These next 3 steps are the key to maximizing your introduction, and in so doing, captivating your audience:

1)     Establish your credibility. Traditionally speaking, credibility is generated from two independent factors: trust and expertise. If your audience find you trustworthy and reliable they will feel compelled to listen to you, regardless of what you’re saying.  Unlike trustworthiness, expertise tends to be judged more objectively, with credentials, certifications or quality of information. So don’t be afraid to throw you titles and education at your audience. Charisma is the last piece in establishing credibility. If people like you, they will listen. Now, to apply credibility to your corporate presentation or investor presentation you only need a couple of slides. Demonstrate that your company has the right experience and you will put the audience into a constructive frame of mind – seeking to find ways to use what the presenter is offering, rather than seeking to find holes in your arguments.

2)     Empathize. Prospects are usually looking for somebody who understands the challenges they face, and who can offer a solution to these problems. After or during the time frame when you are sharing your credibility, present an outline of the specific issue or problem your work relates to. In doing this, you show your audience that you understand the problem. After drawing them in with your outline, spend your time showing how you can solve these problems the audience have. The key issue here is to make sure that you actually talk to the audience’s challenges; if the audience don’t recognize themselves in your portrayal, then you won’t succeed in displaying empathy.

albert-einstein-quote

3)     Promote Interaction. Try to start your presentation with a question or challenge for the audience. By presenting a well-judged puzzle and asking the audience to solve it, attention levels can quickly be raised. Careful to not do anything too hard or too easy, they are easy ways to make this tactic backfire and disengage the crowd. On a related note, it is most effective to promote interaction both at the beginning and at the end of your presentation. Most “presentation experts” simply walk up, say their “schpeel,” and walk off. Like reading a good story, they give you good content, but then stop. The point of a presentation is to achieve some sort of business related action. Sell, buy, invest, divest; it’s all part of the same root.  What is the point of your presentation if you don’t leave the audience with a call to action? Just because they listened to you doesn’t mean they’ll do anything else. Leave them with a “next step.”

Let’s sum up. Starting your presentation effectively is critical to its success. If done poorly, your introduction can singlehandedly loose your audience for the entire presentation. Know what the point of your presentation is, and act accordingly. Use these 3 tactics to maximize your next PowerPoint presentation.

Work Cited:
http://www.m62.net/presentation-theory/presentation-structure/how-to-start-a-presentation/





Steve Jobs: Creating an Engaging Presentation

Even after his death, Steve Jobs continues to be an idol of the business community constantly receiving praise for his dedication to innovation and excellence. There are an endless number of lessons one can learn from the late Apple guru, but one in particular that we can focus on is how he beautifully mastered the art of presentations. He seemed to give as much care to the impact of his presentations as he did to the product he was showcasing. Below are three lessons we can takeaway from the former CEO of Apple.

Show Passion for What You’re Presenting

In any given video of Steve Jobs talking about Apple or anything he was working on, his passion for it is immediately apparent. His ability to be inspired and immerse himself in any project he took a part in, coupled with his famously less-than-mild temperament, made every one of his presentations an invigorating sight to see.

There’s no replica for genuine passion about what you do, but giving off a positive vibe during your presentation will always work in your favor. Enthusiasm, openness, and a smile will make you and by extension your presentation, more likable by your audience.

Utilize a Simple, yet Dynamic Visual Aid

Jobs created an iconic platform for his product presentations that were always immediately recognizable by most anyone. A large, black stage with an enormous screen, behind a plainly dressed Jobs, who wears a slim microphone attached to his ear.

His visual aid, the PowerPoint presentation on the giant screen behind him, is remarkably simple. Each slide has either a single picture or sentence projected on it. This enables each slide have all the more impact and keeps the audience’s main focus on what Jobs is saying.

Work the Audience: Build and Relieve Suspense

This may seem like an abstract idea, but it’s key when engaging an audience – a great presentation is a performance. You need highs and lows–to build suspense and then release it and Steve Jobs was able to execute this perfectly.

While it takes a talented dramatist to replicate what Jobs does during these presentations, you can replicate the emotional effect he has on his audience by rehearsing and  also ensuring that you have everything you need.

-Plan your speech with care. Coordinate your talking points with a visual accompaniment. Especially if you’re making a sell, timing and suspense is everything. Identify a seemingly unsolvable problem, use it to build anticipation, then relieve it with your carefully crafted solution.

-Great speakers and presenters don’t just roll out of bed and wow an audience. They work at it tirelessly. Write out all your cues and talking points, then rehearse this until you’ve perfected what you’re going to say. If speaking in public makes you uncomfortable, rehearsing and then showing up prepared can give you the assurance you need.

-Crafting the perfect PowerPoint for a grand slam presentation can take a lot of expertise. Even if you have the Graphic Design and storyboard experience to make a professional-grade presentation, this can take a huge amount of time that you could otherwise use perfecting your talking points. Using professional PowerPoint designers and specialists is imperative for taking a presentation to the next level.

While few of us have the brilliant spark that let Jobs captivate an audience the way he did throughout his life, with some practice, we can learn some of the ways that made him such a inspiring and innovative figure.

The Core Four: Developing your Company Story in 4 Slides

The business world moves lightning fast in our internet-driven environment, which often makes it a struggle to keep anyone’s attention for too long. When pitching your company’s story, you may only have minutes to entice potential clients.

The challenge here is to draw them in with an original, effective idea and a compelling story that will stand out, but at the same time, the presentation needs to be concise enough to keep the interest of potential clients.

SlideGenius uses what we’ve dubbed the “Core Four” method, where you can tell  potential clients all they need to know about a company in just four easy-to-understand slides.

As you can see, we’ve divided the four slides up very deliberately, and the Core Four slides: Who We Are, The Problem, the Solution, and The Result, can be customized and tailored to any company. Here’s how to create your Core Four to display your guaranteed success.

Who We Are

Use this to explain your company in the simplest terms possible. Simplicity is the key here. The late Apple mastermind Steve Jobs was a favorite of the Twitter-headline method, which was apparent in the presentation of each of his products. The basic idea behind this is that if you can’t compress your business or product idea into a tweet (140 characters) then it’s too complex to be presented effectively. This is apparent in some of his product descriptions, such as introducing the MacBook Air in 2008 simply as “The world’s thinnest notebook.” Or the iCloud last year as, “The iCloud stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices.”

Jobs sought to make each product or idea as simplistic and easily digestible as possible, which is an excellent strategy when presenting your business.

The Problem

This slide is vital for identifying why your business is necessary. Identify the need for your service or product and the troubles one encounters without it. If this slide isn’t strong and convincing, your business may be perceived as an unneeded luxury.

The Solution

Now that you’ve identified the problem, in SlideGenius’s case, this is that most businesses and corporations do not have the time, personnel, and expertise to create dynamic, impactful presentations, it’s time to define how your company will solve this.

This seems like a no brainer: “Duh, they’ll make great PowerPoints.” But it’s much more than this. You must explain how you will go about doing this. This may involve outlining your process, detailing your expertise, or even showcasing your professional staff. Get creative. You’ve shown there’s a problem, now you need to prove that you’re the solution.

The Result

Talk about past successes with clients. Show them tangible results–something that gives them confidence. SlideGenius simply showed the vast list of corporate clients who have successfully outsourced for a professional presentation. The impressive list of recognizable company logos should assure potential clients of SlideGenius’s reliability.